MOLINE, Ill. — A new round of vaccinations could be on the horizon. On Monday, September 20, Pfizer announced its vaccine was safe for children ages 5 to 11, just days before federal regulators are expected to make an announcement regarding booster shots.
Pfizer says it plans on asking for emergency use authorization for children to receive its vaccine as soon as the end of September, meaning approval could arrive by Halloween.
In its trial studies, Pfizer gave more than 2,000 children a third of the dose given to adults. The company said it found minimal side effects similar to adults and other children.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, Covid cases among children have risen exponentially in the last few weeks, now accounting for almost 29% of all cases in the United States.
And this week, a CDC advisory panel will discuss booster dose recommendations.
This comes after an FDA panel already backed boosters for Americans 65 years old or older, as well as those at high-risk for Covid-19.
However, the FDA stopped short of recommending a third dose for the general public, throwing a wrench into the Biden Administration's plans for nation-wide boosters by September 20.
The earliest the CDC's approval for boosters could come, is expected to be around Friday, September 24.
Rock Island County is currently only offering third dose shots to the immunocompromised, with Moderna clinics on Tuesdays and Pfizer on Fridays.
If the booster approval is handed down, the county health department is already discussing the possibility of re-opening mass vaccination sites.
"We are talking about whether there's going to be a need for a mass vaccination site. We're not sure what our plans are at this point," Chief Operating Officer Janet Hill said. "We believe that we can handle it here in our offices, but that could change depending on demand."
Third doses of both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines can be found at multiple providers, beyond the county health department.
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Hill stressed that while Pfizer's announcement regarding children may come as good news to some parents, it's only the first step in a long approval process.
"It's the company saying that their test results or their study results show that it's safe. There has to be a lot of regulatory and health-official scrutiny of those students. This will not be something that will be done immediately," she said.
But for some parents, the news couldn't be more exciting.
"We've been waiting for 18 months, just hoping that a vaccine will be approved soon," Claire Richards, mother to a 1 and 3 year old, said.
While her kids are still too young to get any shot currently authorized, or under review, she says each step is one closer to getting her own toddlers vaccinated.
"We are anxiously awaiting Pfizer to approve a vaccine. We were really excited when the first vaccine was available for us - we got our vaccination as soon as possible," Richards said. "But as parents of small children, it kind of colors every single thing that we do, because there are a lot of major concerns about long-term unknown effects of Covid for small children."
Richards says that while she is vaccinated, she does rethink where she goes and who she interacts with, for fear of bringing home Covid to her unprotected toddlers.
"I'm not going to pretend as if I understand [the vaccine], but I do trust the professionals and the doctors and the scientists that are working tirelessly to try to bring some sort of solace to Americans during an epidemic," she said.
But not everyone is on board with Pfizer's potential new vaccine approval.
Mother of two 16-month-old twins, Kadee Bowman says she's not interested in the shot.
"We really believe that the body is capable of handling viruses. And so we would never give [the vaccine] to our children," Bowman told News 8.
She worried about the potential side effects from the vaccine, which has proven to be nearly the same as adults, when administered to teenagers. Namely, arm soreness, fatigue, headaches, chills, fevers, as well as muscle and joint pain.
"Covid is another virus. We eat well, we move well, we think well, we try to teach [our kids] that what we eat affects what we do and how we feel. And so we just really focus on eating whole foods, vegetables, fruit and avoid processed foods. We believe that's going to do a lot more for our bodies than the shot," Bowman said. "I would definitely hope that I would change my mind if the science, to me, was safe enough for my babies. But if it isn't safe enough for me to put on a spoon and feed it to them, I won't inject it into their blood."
Pfizer is expected to ask the government for emergency approval by the end of September.
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